FINALLY, failing to raise hard cash from friends and international financial institutions like the World Bank, ADB or DFID, Pakistan had to have recourse to the third option of looking to the IMF. For all the reservations that continue to exist in the minds of the people about the Fund in view of their previous experiences with it, it is good news that it has agreed to step in to bail Pakistan out of the present critical economic situation. A loan package of $7.6 billion in quarterly tranches spread over 23 months on, to quote PM's Adviser on Finance Shaukat Tarin, Pakistan's own terms have been approved and money will start flowing in within this month. At a press conference on Saturday, he pointed out, as a sign of its confidence in the programme of recovery designed by the country, that it consented to give credit five times the prescribed limit. He discounted apprehensions that Pakistan was falling into the IMF trap again by maintaining that the Fund's attitude had undergone a change and unlike the past it would not interfere with the microeconomics of the programme. But one must draw Mr Tarin's attention to the various measures the government has taken to put up an acceptable face before the IMF: for instance, increase in interest rates, raising the prices of petroleum products, withdrawing subsidies, among others, and thus in a different way the harsh conditions it usually imposes already stand enforced. The rate of interest will be 3.51 percent to 4.51 percent depending upon the amount given and the repayment will be from 2011-12 to 2015-16. With the inflow of IMF money despite borrowing become even more expensive, hopefully the dried up sources would revive, investment would start coming in, there would be life in the bourse, local industry, in a position to get finances for the import of machinery and raw material, would pick up and inflation would go down. State Bank Governor Dr Shamshad Akhtar, who was present at the press conference, said that the exchange rate reflected the economic realities and should be allowed to float. The rupee would stabilise at its real value. The Advisor, when questioned, was quite firm in saying that the government was committed to take steps to tighten the belt, cut down on non-development expenditure without affecting the development projects, do zero borrowing from the State Bank, reduce the fiscal deficit and bring down inflation to a single digit. He should hearken to the call of PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal that the government should stop favouring jyalas with appointments, carrying huge entourages on official trips and having unwieldy cabinets. Mr Tarin observed that the government's priority would be to have market access and conclude FTAs with the US and EU countries to ensure quicker recovery and development. For all the emphasis that Mr Tarin placed on the government's resolve to do everything to put its economic house in order, public fears and doubts cannot vanish simply because of the less than prudent financial attitude the present administration has so far adopted. Nevertheless, under the circumstances one can only hope that this time around it has learnt its lesson and abides by its commitments. There is simply no other way of relieving the people's mounting misery.